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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Truths Of A Creative Life

Here is the best advice I've received so far / figured out by trial and error for those of you who think "I really want to be a (insert awesome thing here)" but aren't there yet.

Impossible Things


  1. Your passion is your responsibility. I'm 99.9% sure the owner of a successful art gallery isn't going to show up at your house and make sure you paint an award winning painting because they "know you have it in you." If you want to be a painter, paint. It's your job to work hard to develop your skills and talent, no one else's.

  2. "If you won't do something part time, you won't do it full time." This was something Jon Acuff talked about once. People want to quit their job to be, let's say, a writer. You ask, "how much are you writing currently?" "None." What magical thing do you think will happen as soon as you quit your job? What will automatically give you writing discipline and an invested audience? Nothing. You want to be a writer? Start writing. That's the biggest step. Write, even if it's just for 5 people. Then keep writing. Get better. The day you honestly say to yourself, "my day job is the only thing holding me back from taking this growing beast of a hobby to the next level," that's the time to re-evaluate.

  3. When you're collaborating or working on something for someone else, you owe it to them to do your best work even if you don't love the idea. I had a friend who was helping me with a project. He would've approached what we were doing differently, but instead of giving my idea a chance, he just went at it with as little effort as possible. Everything was 25% of what I'd actually hoped to capture. I don't work with him anymore. There are infinite ways you can approach telling a story, so it doesn't make it wrong if it's not what you would've come up with. If a team is not going your route, and their idea fails, let it be because you gave it as good of a chance as humanly possible. If it succeeds, even better. And people won't think you're a toolbag.

  4. Figure out how you work best. Maybe it's with music playing. Maybe it's early in the morning. For me, to get my best work done I need no music, no Twitter, nothing. A desk. That's it. Can I work in a coffee shop? Yes. Can I work with the TV on? Yes. But I owe it to myself to know how I work best and to try and create that situation as often as possible, especially if I'm working on something important. Creating requires a certain measure of imagining, which can't happen to it's full extent if you're also watching 16 & Pregnant.

The moral of the story will always be that talent, art, creativity will always require hard work if you want it to go anywhere. It will demand you be a better human than you started out because you have to develop discipline, humility, bravery and commitment, among other things. 

You aren't known as one of the best composers of all time because your last name is Mozart. It's because you can play the hell out of a harpsichord.

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